17 July 2016
More ATRs but less flights for Invercargill
Air New Zealand will be cutting the number of flights to and from Invercargill, and the city won't be getting a direct flight to Auckland. Airline officials said one daily flight from Invercargill Airport for every day of the week would be cut as of October 30 as part of a new schedule. Also as part of the new schedule, starting on October 30, flights from Invercargill to Christchurch will be operated exclusively on 68-seat ATR prop aircraft, with up to seven daily flights on weekdays and a new early morning flight from Christchurch to Invercargill. An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said overall passenger capacity would not be reduced, despite fewer flights, because the ATRs were larger than the aircraft currently in use on the route. NZ First MP Ria Bond said she was especially disappointed because of recent multimillion-dollar upgrades to the airport and lobbying by Southland business leaders for a direct flight to Auckland. "There seems to be no understanding that business people need to go to the Super City, yet many are driving to Queenstown or Dunedin just so they can get that direct flight," she said. "Apparently the focus is on getting people to connections for international flights, at the expense of local businesses who want to do a day's business in Auckland. It is ironic that the prime minister only recently opened a new airport at Invercargill and now Air New Zealand is cutting flights." Invercargill Airport's new, $13 million terminal was officially opened by Prime Minister John Key in April. Southland Chamber of Commerce president Carla Forbes said the chamber planned on speaking with business leaders about the decision and providing Air New Zealand with feedback. "We have found Air New Zealand to be committed to engaging with community stakeholders, working collaboratively to ensure they are operating a comprehensive domestic schedule delivering connectivity and consistency while also meeting the key needs of the Invercargill and Southland community." Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie said the new schedule would mean people could have a longer business day in Auckland because of earlier connections in Wellington and Christchurch. "The new connections and reliability will have a positive impact for both business and leisure travellers," she said. The Air New Zealand spokeswoman also said that flights from Invercargill to Wellington would use 50-seat Q300 aircraft from October 30. "Air New Zealand remains very much committed to serving Invercargill, and will continue to closely monitor our network to ensure capacity meets demand for services."
Posted by Steve L at 1:45 PM